Common Outlook Consulting Inc. New Perspectives
May 2016 - Issue # 16-05
Founder's Message

Where, oh where, would we be without our rationales?

They help us construct reasonable and well thought out strategies as we prepare for a negotiation: "I can bend on these two things but that other aspect ties into our core business, so it's non-negotiable". They help us develop ways of managing potential conflicts and the difficult people we sometimes come across: "Keeping my stress level low is important, so here's how I'm going to look after myself during that meeting". They help us craft ethical decisions: "It may cost me a little more money if I do this, but it's better for the environment". They help us create good relations with one another: "I'll help this person even though it means some skin off my nose because....", and they even help us form healthy personal habits: "If I floss my teeth I'll keep them into old age".

Where rationales do trip us up however, is when we construct them solely on rational thought... on data, statistics, and numbers and ignore how we feel about it (See last month's article: "What's So Great About Being Rational?"), or when we intertwine them with identity/sense of self, with our reputations, or with strongly held values. In those situations, we often hold tightly (and ironically, somewhat irrationally) onto our rationale because changing it feels threatening to us. Sometimes this happens at a conscious level, but more problematically, sometimes it happens at an unconscious level, hidden from our view. In these cases, we are not even aware of the fact that we are trapped by our own "stuff". Breaking out of this trap usually requires input and assistance from others.

So, this month we thought we'd take a look at the reluctance we sometimes feel, the difficulties we sometimes encounter when we're forced to question or set aside the rationale behind an action or decision, and what we can do about that reluctance.


"It is right that we should stand by and act on our principles; but not right to hold them in obstinate blindness, or retain them when proved to be erroneous.
~ Michael Faraday


Hold tight to your principles and loosely to your rationales.


Coming Up  
Have you ever rationalized a questionable action, only to regret it later? We can help you next month. 




One of the hardest things for us to do in business, or in any part of life for that matter, is to question or change an underlying opinion or rationale.


After all, if we've thought carefully about our ideas, reasonings, positions and the ways in which we like to conduct ourselves and our business practices, to ask oneself to pause (particularly in front of others) and look at a rationale or position, or to change a process of thought is anathema to the way we humans like to function.


We tend to hold our rationales as precious and dear to us. Oh, yes; we'd very much like to escape the notion that perhaps our line of thinking is either faulty or that it might not stand up to the scrutiny of a critical outsider. For who - in light of their own 'brilliant' idea - wants to question its premise? Who wants to admit mid-stream (or at any other time for that matter) that their thinking might be incomplete, flawed, or "Horrors!" that someone else's idea and the rationale behind it might make more sense? 


So it is agreed: You and I sometimes find it difficult to change or even to temporarily put aside an idea or position and the rationale behind it long enough to listen to others. Well, what makes it difficult?

Read more


Peter Hiddema


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